Health Reform: Delivering for Those Who Deliver Health Care

Source: Robert A. Berenson, Ellen-Marie Whelan, Center for American Progress, April 14, 2009

From the summary:
In recent rounds of efforts to achieve substantial health care reforms, health professionals have been largely relegated to commenting on important but ultimately peripheral issues, while lawmakers, insurance and pharmaceutical companies, and patients’ groups took center stage in proposing and opposing insurance coverage expansion and restructuring of health care delivery. This time it is clear that the interests of clinicians to best serve their patients are aligned with the American public’s desire for a health care system that works, and that both of these goals can only be met through health reform that no longer accepts the unacceptable status quo. Today’s evolving consensus on health reform targets precisely the issues that have frustrated clinicians and hampered their ability to do their jobs.

There is near universal agreement that the current system is broken and cannot be tolerated any longer. The clear first priority of reform is to provide every American with good health care coverage. While building on the current mixed public and private health system, health reform will eliminate the worst parts of private insurance markets, including exclusion of individuals from insurance based on pre-existing conditions, the lack of transparency about payment rates and reimbursement rules, and administrative waste associated with fragmented insurance markets. Under the envisioned competition between private plans and a public health insurance plan, it is likely that the performance of both private and public plans will improve. This approach would surely produce positive changes to the health system. If the evolving consensus produces a legislative package that falls short in some areas, additional steps can be taken in the inevitable subsequent rounds of health system reform improvements.

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